Alberta wildlife return to ravaged Waterton park
Survivors must find new food sources and unburned habitat to survive the winter
Animals chased from their natural habitat by smoke and flame have found their way back home to a dramatically altered Waterton Lakes National Park.
Now the survivors are faced with the challenging task of finding new food sources and shelter in their fire-ravaged landscape.
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The "rapid growth and extreme fire behaviour" exhibited by the Kenow wildfire created an "unprecedented situation," killing many wildlife in the park, said Parks Canada in a release.
But healthy animals, including elk, deer, moose, bears and sheep, have recently been observed within the fire area.
Parks Canada staff say they are looking for seriously wounded animals and are euthanizing those with injuries that are not survivable or treatable.
Animal carcasses are being left on the landscape to provide food for surviving carnivores and scavengers, Parks Canada said.
Authorities will continue to observe the long-term effects of this fire on wildlife.
They say fire has always been part of the natural cycle that has shaped the habitat and vegetation, and they expect the flora and fauna in the park to respond in a positive way in the long run.
In the meantime, authorities urge residents and visitors to take extra precautions around park wildlife — many are under exceptional stress and may act abnormally as a result.